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History of Hiyashi Chuka Noodle Salad and Kakigori Shaved Ice

We started offering Hiyashi Chuka and Kakigori at our restaurant for the summer. In the last blog post, we described the dishes. Today, we'll introduce their history.

Hiyashi Chuka

People tend to think that Hiyashi Chuka a Chinese-born dish because its name has Hiyashi which means cold and Chuka which means Chinese. However, it is actually a dish born in Japan. There are many restaurants where it is said to have originated, and it is one of the foods that has been eaten in Japan for a long time.

It is said that its originator may be the Chinese restaurant Ryutei in Sendai city, Miyagi prefecture, back in the summer of 1937. Even in Tohoku region, which is in Northern Japan, a region with lower temperatures than other regions, summer was hot and sales were declining because Chinese food is often considered hot. In Sendai, a festival called the Sendai Tanabata Festival is held every summer. During that time of year, Hiyashi Chuka was invented as a way to target tourists and increase sales. At the time of its birth, it was simply topped with cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables, but it was gradually improved to its current form with many ingredients such as eggs, meat, and vegetables.

In some parts of western Japan, Hiyashi Chuka are called Reimen, even though Reimen is usually referred to a cold noodle dish from the Korean peninsula. The noodles are made from buckwheat or wheat flour and are characterized by their firm texture. Reimen is topped with some ingredients such as a boiled egg, kimchee, and cucumber and is in a cold soup. If you order Reimen in the western Japan, you might get Hiyashi Chuka unexpectedly.

Photo: Korean Style Reimen

In Hokkaido, Hiyashi Chuka is called Hiyashi Ramen. There are various theories as to why it is called that, but it is said that it is because Ramen is very popular in Hokkaido. The original Hiyashi Chuka dish is said to have been created around the time of the end of World War II. Its prototype is similar to its current form, in which shredded ingredients are arranged on a plate. It is said that the way the shredded ingredients are displayed on top of the noodles was created to resemble Mt. Fuji. It is also said that the nationwide spread of Hiyashi Chuka is attributed to the sale of Hiyashi Chuka packages at grocery stores for home use.



The history of kakigori dates back to the Heian period (794-1185). In Sei Shonagon's Makura No Soshi (The Pillow Book), there is a sentence that mentions shaved ice. The word is Kezurigori, and it is what we know today as kakigori. In those days, when there were no freezers, ice was a precious commodity and only the nobility could eat it. Moreover, amazura (syrup made by boiling down the sap of the ivy plant of the grape family), which was also mentioned as the syrup for Kezurigori, was the best sweetener during the Heian period when there was no sugar. It also proves that the shaved ice that Sei Shonagon ate was very expensive and luxurious.

Photo: Reproduction of Amazura Kezurigori from the Heian period

Then, the Edo period (1603–1867). By this time, ice preservation technology had developed to the point that ice from the north could be transported to Edo even in summer. However, it remained a luxury item, and only the shoguns, feudal lords, and wealthy merchants were allowed to eat it. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), with the development of ice machines, ice became available to the general public. However, there were no shaved ice machines, which are common today, and people ate shaved ice shaved into small pieces with a hand plane. It was not until 1887 that shaved ice took the form we know today. The shaved ice machine invented by Hanzaburo Murakami made it possible to eat thinly shaved ice. Since then, technology has evolved further, and now we can enjoy eating ice that is fluffy and smooth on the tongue, but the basic shape has not changed much since the Meiji Era.


There is a lot of food items, housewares, stationery, and gifts available at the store and our online store, Maido! Kairashi Shop, where you can place your order for shipping or store pickup!

Happy shopping. :)


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